Eastside Catholic Crusaders tight end DJ Rogers, left, gets tackled against the Garfield Bulldogs in the Class 3A state quarterfinals on Nov. 17, 2017. The Crusaders finished the 2017 season with an overall record of 10-1. Photo courtesy of Rick Edelman/Rick Edelman Photography

Eastside Catholic Crusaders tight end DJ Rogers, left, gets tackled against the Garfield Bulldogs in the Class 3A state quarterfinals on Nov. 17, 2017. The Crusaders finished the 2017 season with an overall record of 10-1. Photo courtesy of Rick Edelman/Rick Edelman Photography

Eastside Catholic powerhouse football program is looking to return to the mountaintop

Starting quarterback spot still hasn’t been decided at this juncture.

The last two seasons didn’t end the way the Eastside Catholic Crusaders wanted it to on the football field.

The Crusaders, who won Class 3A state titles in 2014 and 2015, lost to the Garfield Bulldogs 13-10 in the Class 3A state quarterfinals last November. In 2016, the Crusaders saw their season end in the state semifinals courtesy of a loss to the Kamiakin Braves.

Crusaders’ head coach Jeremy Thielbahr said only one or two players who will be on the current roster this fall suited up for his team’s last appearance in the state title game during the 2015 season. The Crusaders wrapped up their spring ball practice sessions on June 14 in Sammamish.

“It has been difficult the past couple of years. We’ve had some talent but we also have had some tough breaks. It does take a ball bouncing your way every now and then to break your way. That just hasn’t happened for us the past two years. They’re all pretty hungry. Our ultimate goal is to win a state title,” Thielbahr said. “I really believe making a run at the state title is deeply rooted in the leadership and family atmosphere of your team. We’re taking the steps this year to get that done. In the end, it comes down to staying healthy, laying it on the line for each other and playing for the man next to you.”

Thielbahr said quarterbacks Michael Franklin and Hayden Harris are currently in a competition for the starting quarterback position.

“Hayden is a very talented guy both offensively and defensively. He is a great athlete and is also playing some wide receiver for us,” Thielbahr said.

The Crusaders will return a plethora of talented players from the 2017 varsity squad, including safety Andrew Peterson, wide receiver Gee Scott Jr., middle linebacker Even Greve, defensive back Ayden Hector, offensive/defensive lineman Will Vea, tight end DJ Rogers, running back Sam Adams, center Jason Medeiros and defensive lineman/tight end Jaylahn Tuimoloau.

Thielbahr, who will be in his eighth season leading the Crusaders program this fall, is fully entrenched in the EC community.

“It is such a great place to coach. You just feel so much love and togetherness. It is a very special community to be a coach and a mentor. I’m excited about this year. Every year there is a new leadership cast. It is going to be fun to see our seniors take over,” Thielbahr said.

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